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Keyboard straight into DAC???

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by jkawashima, Dec 21, 2003.

  1. jkawashima

    jkawashima Guest

    I'm no a complete newbie, but I know this really sounds like it. Can someone clarify for me: I'm working at a studio where they have a keyboard out (balanced 1/4") patched straight into a patch-bay, then straight into the D/A of the HD interface. The signal always seems quite low and I'm wondering, is that the best impedence matching way to go? No console/pre-amp?

    I need to transfer a bunch of tracks out of the keyboard and want them to sound great. Sould I be renting a stereo pre to put infront of the HD, so the signal has the right level?

    Thank you so much in advance.
  2. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Mar 31, 2002
    it depends.
    There are 2 line level standards:
    1. Consumer -10 dBV (0.316 volts)
    2. Pro +4 dBU (1.2 volts)

    As you can see, a pro line in expects a nominal level that is 4x higher than what a consumer device puts out.

    For some reason every keyboard I have ever used has consumer line level out. If the ADC is has pro line level inputs you need an amplifier. I use a line level DI to do this unless I want some flavoring (i.e. deliberate distortion) from a mic pre.

    If the ADC has -10dBv inputs available (many have both +4 and -10) then connecting the keyboard directly to the ADC is perfectly acceptable and should sound excellent. Many many pro level ADC have both pro and consumer level line inputs available.

    If the engineer at the studio you are using doesn't know about all this then you might want to consider another studio where the engineers actually have engineering knowledge.

  3. Duardo

    Duardo Guest

    If the keyboard really does have a balanced 1/4" out as you said, you should be fine. If the levels seem a little low it's most likely not a problem. There's no need to peak right at 0 dBFS.

    And I'm assuming you mean into the ADC, not the DAC...

  4. jkawashima

    jkawashima Guest

    A/D, yes that's what I meant - d'oh. Thank you for the feedback. I ended up patching the xp-80 (they have no manual, and I'm still scouring the net to find specs on the output level/type) into the -10 of the HD-interface. Signal is definitely better, but still on the quite whimpy side - maybe it is on the low side of output.

    I get the sense that the next option is to buy a descent pre. It's more of a post-video place, so something all-around useful, but not crazy expensive like an RNP - maybe a dual vintech if they're feeling flush.

    Thanks again for the input.
  5. Duardo

    Duardo Guest

    The XP80 did not have balanced outputs, so I think the -0dBv inputs are the ones you'd want.

    As for "crazy expensive like the RNP"...the dual Vintech is almost three times the price of the RNP...

  6. Albert

    Albert Guest

    Typically, an engineer would take the outputs of your synth into DI's, from there to a preamp, and from there to the recording device. With that signal path you would have plenty of gain and I think you'd find your synths sounding a lot better.

    There are a lot of different flavors of DI's, some passive some active, some with gain, many without gain. If the DI is active and has gain, like the Groove Tube DITTO for example, then you might not need to follow it with a preamp. However, if it is a passive DI, like most of the stage boxes you see, then you would need to follow it with a preamp.

    What's becoming a more common feature these days are DI inputs on preamps. So make sure that whatever preamp you rent has the DI inputs, or of if it doesn't, rent a couple DI's to go along with the preamp.
  7. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    I recorded an mpc2000 the other day into an HD rig. I went out of the individual out right into the inputs of the 192 interface. No di, no pre's. The levels looked and sounded great. Not what I would have thought, but most modern synths, samplers, etc. have suprisingly hot outputs.

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